Wilderness Way

The Wilderness Way

I grew up in a town called Kennesaw Georgia. Prior to incorporation in 1877, The area was called Big Shanty and was the location of Camp McDonald, a Confederate training camp. The Big Shanty area is the highest elevation on the rail road between Marietta and the Etowah River. On April 12,1862 a band of 20 Union soldier spies led by a civilian named James Andrews boarded the General, an Atlantic & Western Rail Road express train #3, in Marietta.

When the train stopped at the Big Shanty Depot for the crew and passengers to have breakfast, Andrews and his men hijacked the train and headed north. This was a strategic place to take the train because there was not a telegraph at Big Shanty. A rider would have to be dispatched to Marietta to send word of the capture. William Fuller, the Generals Conductor and who was also a Captain in the Confederate militia, and a few of his crew gave chase and ran on foot to the next station a couple of miles up the line. That was called Moon's Station and this is where Fuller acquired a pole car and resumed the chase.The height of the elevation of Big Shanty was important here because since it was down hill to the next couple of stations fuller was able to make good time on the pole car until they arrived near Allatoona and hit a place where Andrews had broke the track sending Fuller and his men flying off the track. They managed to acquire another engine, the Yonah, and give chase until hitting more raised rails near Kingston. Here the engine William R. Smith, a mail train bound for Rome, was acquired and Fullers men were back on the chase. Just south of Adairsville the tracks were raised again so the WRS was abandoned and Fuller and his men ran to town and found the A&WRR engine Texas #49. The train was south bound so the cars were uncoupled and the Texas ran in reverse after the General. Fuller first caught sight of Andrews in Calhoun and it took until the General ran out of steam near the town of Ringgold for Fuller to finally catch up. The General is now on display in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw. The Texas is on display at the Cyclorama Building in Atlanta.

All together twenty four raiders were involved and captured, eight escaped, eight were hung, six were exchanged, and two forced to enlist in the Confederacy. Nineteen of the Union soldiers, excluding Andrews because he was a civilian, were the first recipients of the Congressional Metal of Honor ever awarded.

I lived on Moonstation Rd. about one and a half miles from where this historic event started. I have spent many days walking the train tracks and roaming the woods of this area which now is mostly subdivisions and industrial businesses. My friends and I would walk for miles and often not get home until after dark. This has been the way I developed an affinity for exploration and adventure. I enjoy spending the night in the woods by myself and covering as much ground as I can in a day on foot or on the river in a canoe. As a kid, I would say to my Dad "Let's go far a hike!" and my Dad would take my Brother and I down the street to the creek and we would walk the creek and pan for gold, look for wildlife and other interesting examples of nature. These trips shaped my perception of nature and whats important in life. Because more than the just the sites we saw, we had the opportunity to have a talk when no one else was listening. It's called "quality time" now-a-days but we just called it "Going for a hike".






Unalienable Rights and Responsibilities


A quote from the Declaration of Independence.

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

The men who came together in confidence to write these words were endowed with uncommon wisdom and understanding. They understood a separation from the their current government was going to happen out of sheer momentum. The peoples grievance with the King was to great by this time. It was undeniable to them by the fall of 1775. Escalation of tensions between the colonists and Kings forces were growing increasingly acrimonious. The news papers of the day were masters of sensationalizing the headlines and the acts themselves by both sides were designed to irritate the other. On October 27, 1775 at the Palace of Westminster, King George III had given a brief but decisive speech announcing his intentions to bring the rebellious American Colonies back to allegiance and restrain the impending uprising by military force. The Americans were to be made an example of what happens when the King was defied. When word of the announcement reached the American shores a couple of months later, the colonists had already began to build a military command structure, recruiting troops and trying to raise support from those still loyal to the King.

It was these events that led to the declaration of independence being written. This was the catalyst that brought out the resolve to create a government of the People. They decided to make a prolific change in their future circumstances and create a "more perfect union" which would come latter. Because of why the Americans separated and because of the price that was required in terms of life and property to wage a war with England, America has known the value of liberty. America has shown the world what happens when a people is less hindered by the government and is allowed to effect their own life with freedom and common happiness. Having had a dramatic impact world wide, America has been attracting immigrants of all cultures and making the country stronger by diverse experience. America has always been willing to stand in the way tyranny and defend against the unjust actions of unprovoked aggression. This does not mean that America is perfect or has not had it's own oppressive examples internally, the two most notable are Slavery and the Native American Removal. Overall Americans have sought to correct the wrongs of tyrants of the world and has been a generous victor when a war has ended. Where else in history has the victor restored the enemies people and the sovereignty their government and rebuilt their infrastructure at the victors own expense?

All the blessings of freedom have been enjoyed by Americans because it's government was set up to secure freedoms and rights, not to grant them. In the excerpt from the Declaration above, you can see that the authors recognized that the "Rights" are endowed by a higher authority than the government because government is made of men. These rights are unalienable which means that they can not be separated from humanity. While the rights are not tangible, they are as attached as the very soul that that compels men to be concerned with such things as Providence. Providence weighed heavily on the minds of the men who led America to independence. It is mentioned so many times in letters to family, friends and in print that it was apparently the motivation for such grave decisions of treason and defiance. They realized that there were better ways of living life than an allegiance to a tyrannical  government and threw off that bond to set a course of their own.

The founders gave this line to show the gravity of their situation and to show that they were aware of the burden of responsibilities they had:

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

It is here that we can see that with the use of the words "right" and "duty", we also have unalienable responsibilities as well as rights. It is the purpose of the government to protect our rights but it is the People's responsibility to do it. The government is likened to a child that must be chastised by it's parents. The People were given the government and the People is responsible for it and it's actions. The government can also be compared to a living organism. It has a will and a determination of it's own independent from the will of the People. It seeks to preserve it's self first and the needs of "it's" People second. The government has an uncanny desire for growth no matter the party in charge. Self subsistence is the foremost goal in spite of how much talk about the public welfare. As the Declaration states, a population is given to suffer while the circumstances are sufferable. However our system gives the People the power and responsibility to elect a government aligned with the Constitution and the People's rights. As our rights are lost and our freedoms dissipate, we have ourselves to blame as a people for our irreclaimable losses. Through ignorance, apathy and passive involvement at best in our government's operation, we have witnessed the start of our system's breakdown.

The government is so willing to give that which it does not own to a population so willing to accept that which it did not earn, we can only expect that the future will be a push to satisfy a covetous population. The point of view that it is better to be handed your health care and other necessities rather than maintain the freedom and therefore the responsibility to provide your own is causing the reduction of our freedoms and the spoiler of the utmost example of self governance in mankind's history of life. The propensity of entitlements and new programs designed to make the People feel secure in their government and less dependent on the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" will surely show the weakness of the current People, blissfully satisfied with their current descent into a new form of despotism.

As the government grows at unprecedented rates the People can not be naive to believe that this growth is to assist in protecting the freedoms of it's citizens. All along this growth spurt (the last several decades) we have witnessed how the government desires to absorb liberties and control the people's income through taxes and gain control of certain industries while weakened by a fragile economy. It is my request here that the People examine it's situation and weigh the things that are important for the survival of freedom for posterity's sake.  Would we rather that our children live by handouts from the government or live free with liberties given by our Creator? Does your Life, Fortune, and sacred Honor have any appraisable value to you? I can assure you that a people who does not place a high value on these things will pay for their inattention with their freedom.




Some pictures





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